Stimulating Conversations

5:00 PM -- The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) weighed in on the $7 billion broadband stimulus package, and as you might expect, the group is supportive of it, so long as funds are used to help out largely unserved areas and underserved populations, and not where, you know, cable's already spent billions of its own scratch deploying and upgrading broadband networks.

In a paper sent to Congress, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) , and the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) (the latter two are overseeing those funds), the NCTA recommends that funds from the stimulus program be directed to a "small percentage" of U.S. homes that have no physical access to broadband services or can't afford such services.

The NCTA estimates that 9 million to 10 million homes, mostly in rural regions, lack broadband access. The "underserved populations" category comprises another 35 million homes with broadband access, but who don't use them because they can't pay for them.

The cable pressure group says the government "should proceed with caution" in "underserved areas," where broadband is available but generally at lower speeds than in other areas of the country.

"To the extent funds remain, extending broadband to underserved areas would be appropriate, so long as agencies do not upset the competitive balance," the NCTA noted.

Among some other guiding "principles," the NCTA said any awards should be "competitively and technologically neutral so as not to create disincentives to private investment," and that implementations of any broadband stimulus should be "transparent and coordinated with other agencies providing similar aid."

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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